Friday, December 17, 2010

George Washington University Online MBA Program Review

Author: Dr. Thomas Pane

I recently completed George Washington University’s online MBA program, and I am happy to share my experience with the community. I always had an interest in business; consuming books in business, finance and economics for quite a while. I felt it made sense to go further with a formal degree program.

As a practicing physician, I needed to have a program that took place mostly or entirely online. The GW website provides comprehensive program information, so I will add my own points below.

It’s Convenient:
The program is 100% online, but access is needed only when downloading information or uploading assignments. Some classes have recorded lectures with slides, and there are occasional live webinars.

It’s Comprehensive:
The program covers all typical MBA disciplines, with a few health-specific electives. There is substantial exposure to marketing, financial and managerial accounting, and finance. The structure of the program changed partway through my experience. The new structure has core courses and elective choices.

It’s Challenging:
The time commitment is advertised as 15-20 hrs per week. It is definitely all of that. The rhythm of the program is three 1.5 credit classes at a time for 7 week sessions. A typical week involves working on class materials (lectures/readings) and then completing the assignments over the weekend. Almost all classes have something due every Sunday at midnight.

It’s Costly:
Being online doesn’t decrease the cost in terms of university credits. And there are small annual tuition increases. So far, competition has not led to price competitiveness in higher education! (And the program did not cover why education seems to exist under a separate set of economic rules)

It’s Fun:
Once you get used to the rhythm, the material is engaging and you can’t help but enjoy it. You will interact with plenty of sharp colleagues and professors. Most other students are from health-related backgrounds, but are not all physicians. Students from pharma, insurance, medical device, and administration are all represented, and bring their experiences to online discussion forums.

Networking is possible online but would be better in person. This will probably improve as online education matures and evolves to take advantage of various Web 2.0 platforms to improve the networking element. The classes with recorded lectures were generally better than those without, and over time I would guess more of the classes will move in this direction.

The GW HCMBA program is a worthwhile experience, and I highly recommend it to any motivated student with an interest in formal graduate business education.

This was written by Dr. Thomas Pane. 

Dr. Pane is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He has completed two surgical residencies.  The first was in  general surgery residency at Baystate Medical Center, affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine, and the second was in plastic surgery at Detroit Medical Center, affiliated with Wayne State University School of Medicine.  Dr. Pane is board certified in both general and plastic surgery.  He has practiced  reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Dr. Pane received his MBA from the George Washington University School of Business in 2010.


  1. Dr. Pane, after finishing your MBA what opportunity did it offer to you?
    Why did you choose GWU among other online MBA program?
    How much did it cost you?
    I am also a physician that serves in different committees but does not hold a leadership position, should I take MBA to advance my career?
    Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your comment:

    Earning a degree is helpful but not necessary for a nonclinical career, from everything that I have read. However, you do tap into the university network and recruiters/companies that interact with it.

    I chose GWU because I felt it was the best university that offered a fully-online program. I had to do a fully-online program because of my clinical situation.

    The cost was more than $1000/credit hour. Both the cost and the required credit hours have gone up since I began the program. I estimate tuition would be between $50-60k now.

    If you are already serving on committees in your career, you are probably making some nonclinical inroads. A degree is not going to hurt your advancement but it usually isn't necessary. See some of the links on this site where the pros and cons of getting a degree are explored. I think it has to be an individual choice in every case and there is no single correct answer.

    Best of luck.

    Thomas Pane

  3. Thank you very much for your reply.
    I will be starting my Health Informatics course next year at GWU.
    That will make us both graduates of GWU :)